Learning Japanese is an amazing journey you can now take by yourself thanks to the newest tools available out there. Either because you can’t afford taking classes, or you think that learning is much better when you are your own teacher, learning Japanese individually has never been easier.
I have never studied Japanese prior to having it as a minor during my UNI years, but due to the many lacks in the teaching process, most of the Japanese I know today was acquired through individual study. Here are a few tools that will come in handy to all the new Japanese learners, as well as to the more experienced ones that want to strengthen their knowledge.
1. Buy or print professional textbooks
While learning Japanese without a teacher is by all means doable, you will still need a textbook or two to guide you through. From my experience, the very best textbooks that can be used for gaining an insight into the grammar and vocabulary of this language are the series of Minna no nihongo and the series of Genki. You don’t need to have any prior Japanese knowledge when using them, as the textbooks have all their grammar explanations translated into English.
2. Use Duolingo
Over the years, Duolingo has become one of the best free apps out there when it comes to learning a new language. It has structured grammar and vocabulary lessons, along with many learning notes that are meant to make the process of learning as easy as possible for you.
Duolingo also hosts a lot of online events where you can practice your skills by interacting with other learners, as well as native Japanese speakers. Again, everything is for free.
3. Find out new words everyday with the Jisho dictionary app
Jisho is amazing for new learners that are not yet accustomed with the Japanese alphabets. You can use it to search for Japanese words by writing them in their romaji equivalent, and then the app will automatically convert the letters into Japanese characters.
4. Use Memrise
Memrise can be an amazing side app when learning Japanese. I would not necessarily recommend it to new learners that don’t really have a basic knowledge as it is not as well structured as Duolingo. However, it can be used along with the Minna no nihongo and Genki textbooks when learning new vocabulary words. You can find the full Memrise course for the Minna no Nihongo I textbook in here.
5. Watch Anime with Japanese subtitles
There are a lot of websites that offer this service, but my very favorites are for sure Kitsunekko and Animelon. They offer a lot of great options, like having multiple subtitles on (romaji/kana/kanji + English). Animelon is also great because you can get the English definition of any Japanese word just by clicking on the word.
No matter which option you choose when going through this amazing journey, every step that takes you closer to being fluent in this beautiful language is surely a personal success. Celebrate every progress. And never give up!